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Assam police ask parents to shield their children from the perils of ‘Sharenting’: All you need to know about the phenomenon

Through this post, the Assam police wanted to warn parents that sharing too much personal information about their kids online could expose them to predators and fraudsters.

On Saturday, July 15, the Assam police took to Twitter to warn parents against a phenomenon called ‘Sharenting’ which is becoming increasingly common in today’s day and age of social media. Cautioning parents of the potential risks associated with this practice, the Assam police tweeted, “Likes fade, but the digital scars remain. Shield your child from the perils of Sharenting. Be mindful of what you share about your child on Social Media. #DontBeASharent.”

Along with the tweet, it posted AI-generated pictures of four kids, each carrying a separate message and urged parents to protect their children from sharenting.

The first picture showed a child holding a trophy and was accompanied by the text “Children are not social media trophies.”

Another picture featured a young girl holding a smartphone with the chilling caption, “Snapshot of innocence, stolen by the internet.”

One more image depicted a girl child standing with the same mobile phone, with the caption reminding viewers, “Do not trade their privacy for social media attention.”

Last but not least, a picture of a little boy clutching a smartphone was included, along with the statement “Your children’s story, their choice to tell.”

Basically through this post, the Assam police wanted to warn parents that sharing too much personal information about their kids online could expose them to predators and fraudsters.

Social media platforms have become an integral part of our lives, and their prevalence has exposed children to various risks, including sharenting. It is essential for parents to be aware of these risks and exercise caution when sharing information about their children on social media. Understanding the potential consequences and taking steps to protect a child’s privacy and well-being can help mitigate the risks associated with sharenting.

But before we proceed further let us understand what exactly is ‘Sharenting’ which the Assam Police are cautioning parents about. Sharenting is a term that was coined in 2010. It refers to the overuse or excessive sharing of information about one’s children on social media platforms by their parents or guardians. It involves sharing photos, videos, personal anecdotes, and other details about a child’s life online. While sharing moments and milestones can be a way for parents to connect with others and celebrate their children, sharenting raises certain risks and concerns.

Here are some of the risks associated with sharenting

  1. Privacy concerns: By sharing information about their children online, parents may unintentionally expose them to privacy risks. Personal details, such as full names, birthdates, schools, and locations, can be easily accessed by strangers, potentially leading to identity theft or other malicious activities.
  2. Digital footprint: The information shared online creates a digital footprint for children, which can have long-term consequences. As they grow older, their online history may affect their reputation, educational opportunities, and future employment prospects.
  3. Online exploitation: Shared photos and videos can be misused or exploited by others. They may be downloaded, altered, or even used for inappropriate purposes. Children may feel embarrassed, violated, or humiliated by the content shared without their consent.
  4. Cyberbullying: Children who are exposed to sharenting may become targets of cyberbullying. Their pictures or stories can be misused by others to ridicule, mock, or harass them, causing emotional distress.
  5. Overexposure and parental oversharing: Constant online sharing can potentially affect a child’s sense of identity and self-esteem. They may feel pressured to meet certain expectations or be uncomfortable with their personal moments being shared without their control.
  6. Digital kidnapping: Sharenting can potentially lead to a phenomenon known as “digital kidnapping.” Digital kidnapping occurs when someone takes photos or information about a child shared online and creates a false identity or misrepresents the child as their own. This deceptive act can have various motivations, including obtaining attention, sympathy, or even engaging in fraudulent activities.
  7. Stalking: Stalking is another potential risk associated with sharenting. When parents share information, photos, or videos of their children online, they inadvertently provide a window into their family’s life, including their daily activities, routines, and locations. This information can be exploited by individuals with malicious intent, including stalkers. Stalkers can use the information shared by parents to track and monitor a family’s movements, potentially leading to dangerous situations. They may be able to determine the child’s school, extracurricular activities, or even their regular hangout spots, making it easier for them to approach or follow the child.

To help protect against digital kidnapping, it is important for parents to be cautious about the information they share online about their children.

How social media contributes to the risks associated with sharenting

  1. Easy and widespread sharing: Social media platforms provide a convenient and widespread way to share information and media instantly. Parents can easily upload and share photos, videos, and personal anecdotes about their children with a large audience, often without fully considering the potential consequences.
  2. Lack of control over shared content: Once something is posted on social media, it can quickly spread and be shared by others, potentially reaching a much larger audience than initially intended. This lack of control over shared content increases the risk of children’s personal information being accessed by strangers or used inappropriately.
  3. Persistent online presence: Information shared on social media platforms can have a long-lasting impact. Even if the content is deleted or privacy settings are adjusted later on, it may have already been saved or reshared by others. This persistent online presence can contribute to privacy concerns and affect a child’s digital footprint.
  4. Public versus private sharing: Social media blurs the line between public and private sharing. Parents may inadvertently share personal moments or intimate details about their children without realizing the potential consequences. This oversharing can lead to privacy breaches and discomfort for the children involved.
  5. Targeted advertising and data collection: Social media platforms often collect user data for targeted advertising purposes. When parents share information about their children, this data can be used to create detailed profiles and potentially expose them to privacy risks or manipulative marketing practices.
  6. Online social dynamics: Children may face social pressure or bullying related to sharenting. Their peers might discover embarrassing or sensitive information shared by their parents, which can lead to teasing, bullying, or exclusion.
  7. Online predators and exploitation: The accessibility of personal information on social media can attract the attention of online predators. They may use the information shared by parents to groom or exploit children, posing significant risks to their safety.

What steps should the parents consider to reduce the risks of sharenting

  1. Exercise caution: Before sharing anything about their children, parents should consider the potential risks and ensure they are comfortable with the information being publicly available.
  2. Adjust privacy settings: Utilize privacy settings on social media platforms to limit the audience for shared content, ensuring that only trusted friends and family can access it.
  3. Be mindful of content: Avoid sharing intimate or embarrassing details that could potentially harm the child’s dignity or reputation.
  4. Educate children: Teach children about online privacy, the potential risks associated with sharing personal information, and the importance of managing their own digital footprint.

By being mindful of the risks and adopting responsible online sharing practices, parents can strike a balance between sharing special moments and protecting their children’s privacy and well-being.

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